Mental Health Matters!

Three of our wonderful PSD School Psychologists (Meg Griffin, Lisa Vencill, and Melanie Potyondy) presented at the Mental Health Matters PSD and Fort Collins Community Event on April 18, 2019 at Rocky Mountain High School. Thank you all for your part in keeping this important conversation going!

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From left to right: Melanie Potyondy, Meg Griffin, Lisa Vencill


Congratulations to our staff who were nominated by their colleagues in recognition of the amazing work they do on behalf of students with disabilities in PSD!

The following staff members were recognized at the Integrated Services Quarterly Meeting on Thursday, March 28, 2019.

Elaine Amond, IS Social Worker, Preston Middle School
(Nominated by the Preston IS Team)

  • “The Preston Integrated Services team would like to nominate our social worker, Elaine Amond, to be recognized at the Quarterly meeting. Elaine Amond has a heart as big as Preston Middle School. She is an integral member of the Preston multidisciplinary team and is a leader in our department. Elaine’s wealth of knowledge and experience and her compassion for students and families inspire her to go beyond the extra mile every day; she goes above and beyond for all students. She is a strong and consistent advocate for students and works tirelessly to advocate for our students who are in need.  Elaine is a champion for those who are treated unfairly.  She looks out for any student who may need a kind word, a listening ear, and a caring adult. She takes the time that is needed to really get to know her students. She builds a strong relationship with middle school aged students that lead to them feeling safe and heard.
    Every student she works with leaves her office knowing they are cared for and special.  She has made a difference in the lives of the students and staff she supports at Preston.  As she steps into her new adventure, her presence will be missed, but the lives of the students she touched will be remembered. Elaine will be missed at Preston; she will leave some very big shoes to fill. Thank you for all your years of service and taking such great care of kids!!!”

Laura Buser, IS Paraprofessional II, Fort Collins High School
(Nominated by Alejandra McGee, IS Teacher)

  • “Laura was new to FCHS and PSD last year, but she has amazingly created such a presence within Fort Collins HS. Laura came in eager to learn and willing to support students within the extensive needs Autism/ILS program. She has grown in confidence to not only support students effectively, but also create and uphold students to a higher standard. Students working in the kitchen have made huge strides in independence because Laura and Tom (who was nominated earlier this year) are proactive in their endeavors to fade prompting and allow for students to make growth through authentic learning. Laura is creative and has used this creativity to help students within vocational tasks like card making, Unified art, greenhouse work, catering, and data collecting. She thinks outside the box and asks questions to best understand why certain systems are in place. She is insistent on making sure that she knows the best protocol before acting upon a situation and takes initiative when necessary. Laura has become our go-to person for Autism Literacy curriculum, as she makes sure that students have the right level each week. She is kind, relatable, and a natural knack for “teaching”. Laura is the PERFECT paraprofessional and I know that this gift that she has will serve her well in whatever path that she follows!”

Paul Pietrzyk, IS Paraprofessional I, Zach Elementary School
(Nominated by Danielle Connors, IS Teacher)

  • “The Zach Integrated services team would like to nominate Paul Pietrzyk (pee a chek) for a quarterly staff recognition. Paul has been with us since October 2018 and has been a great asset as a para to our department. He provides classroom support for grades K-5 and helps modify instructional material for students within general education. Paul also runs small instructional groups and does an amazing job of targeting individual student needs. Paul began his career as an investigator in law enforcement, but after retiring, Paul chose to give back to his community by working with children with special needs. Paul is a natural in the classroom and uses firm but loving strategies to make sure our children are always exceeding expectations. Paul is flexible, caring, and is always learning and growing within our team. We are so lucky to have Paul as part of our team!”

Brad Reimers, School Psychologist, Beattie Elementary School
(Nominated by Laura Spotz, IS Teacher and Donna Detmar-Hanna, OT)

  • “Brad goes above and beyond to support students and staff at Beattie Elementary!  He comes to work every day with a smile and an incredibly positive attitude.  The students all know his name and enjoy when they get a chance to work with him.  Brad brings laughter and joy to our school.

    “As many of you know, Brad works at three schools and is an active School Psychologist at the district and state level.  He is also a member of the Brain Injury Team and is always trying to further his own growth as a member of the Integrated Services team.  Brad is professional in all his interactions with staff and parents.  He writes very thorough and parent-friendly evaluations and conducts IEP meetings in a positive and collaborative manner.

    “Brad we are so lucky to work with you and thank you for all you do!  You are an angel!”

Chris Rosazza, IS Teacher, Rocky Mountain High School
(Nominated by Melanie Potyondy, School Psychologist)

  • “Chris Rosazza is a kind, collaborative, positive individual on the Rocky Integrated Services Team. As the leader of our Bistro class, in which students with disabilities run a school-based restaurant, he provides students with numerous hands-on, generalizable, real-world skills that directly correlate with their post-secondary goals. In addition to functional math skills, students in this program develop competencies around leadership, communication, social skills, time management, home living, and community safety. Watching Chris interact with his students as they make and deliver breakfast burritos or serve multi-course meals in a café setting, it is clear the level of care he puts into building relationships with these individuals and into identifying areas where each of their strengths can shine. 

    “Chris also demonstrates strengths as a case manager, consistently advocating for his students and working to identify avenues to build success. This school year, I have worked with Chris to reconnect one older student on his caseload with school after a lengthy period of absence. This student, facing social and emotional difficulties, is currently a total non-attender. Even while other students on his caseload present him with needs to address in-the-moment, Chris goes out of his way to continually contact this student’s parents, to explore new attendance interventions, as well as  to personally reach out to the student via email to invite him back into the fold. Despite the frustrations that can arise when a capable student appears to have given up on school, Chris has maintained an admirable level of positivity and stick-to-it-iveness that is maintaining a lifeline to school that this student desperately needs. Another of Chris’ students experienced a significant health crisis that left him with notable and unusual impairments that can often flummox and sometimes overwhelm staff. Chris has worked doggedly to identify and build on this student’s strengths, has developed an incredible level of rapport with this student and his family, and has been successful in supporting this student in his move from total non-attendance to inclusion in some challenging general education coursework in a year’s time. In general, Chris’ easy-going, personal, persistent teaching style has made him a great fit with students in very unique and challenging circumstances. I so appreciate working with Chris and all that he does to make Rocky a great place to be.”

Riley Simonton, Speech-Language Pathologist, Beattie Elementary School
(Nominated by Laura Spotz, IS Teacher and Donna Detmar-Hanna, OT)

  • “I am pleased to nominate Danielle Schultz because of her tireless efforts to implement a new reading program and class at Fort Collins High.  The program was targeted to students with intense instruction needs.  Her program and work has paid off and the results are amazing!!! She has taken many beginning readers and worked to increase their scores beyond 1-2 years growth in less than a semester time.  Overall, the students in her classes are making gains not only in ‘reading’ classes but across all subjects.  In our field, we don’t want to only focus on test scores or numbers.  Another huge accomplishment is the fact that two of the students she case manages have been awarded significant scholarship money from Front Range.  WHOOOOHOOOO Danielle and students!!! This is all attributed to her dedication to students.  She builds long-lasting relationships and rapport with kids that are sometimes more difficult to engage.  I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work and learn from such a gifted teacher.”

Gail Sorensen, IS Teacher, Lincoln Middle School
(Nominated by the Lincoln IS Team)

  • “Gail’s sense of humor brightens her classroom.  She is always willing to help a colleague by proofreading paperwork, share instructional materials, or give advice.  She expects great things from her students and pushes them to help each other, be respectful, and follow classroom routines.  The well-established routines in her classroom help all students to feel successful because they know what to expect and know that they can meet the expectations.”
  • “Gail has always been a team player. She helps in any way she can and will drop what she is doing to provide her colleagues with support. She is an excellent teacher who cares about her students and teaches in a way that make learning fun and engaging. She always has command of her class and her students obviously respect her as a teacher. She often brightens up people’s day with her quick wit and humor. She is going to be sorely missed!!!”
  • “Gail is one of a kind. A challenging situation is always met with humor and thoroughness unmatched by her peers. She makes sure kids learn their math using a multitude of different strategies and leave her class feeling confident in their math skills. She can reach kids who have in the past felt poorly about their math abilities.”
  • “Gail is diligent with getting her paperwork done and done well. She uses her data to make decisions that will help all her kids. Furthermore, she collaborates with staff on how students are doing so they can write accurate IEPs.”
  • “The thing I most appreciate about Gail is her genuine care for her students. It is clear through their interactions with Gail, they respect and look up towards her as more than just a teacher. She is a nurturer, and they know and love her for it.”
  • “I have worked with Gail Sorensen for the last 7 years.  Gail teaches math to many of our students on IEP’s.  It is quite awesome to watch her in action and yes, like I said, she teaches math.  Gail is quick on her feet with humor and keeps her class highly engaged because she makes it light, fun, and competitive.  Kids are always raising their hands to do the next problem on the board to show others what they know.  Kids feel comfortable and safe and are willing to take risks in her class where they may not be able to in other parts of their day.  As this is Gail’s last year teaching at Lincoln and in Poudre, I am going to miss her sense of humor, wit, and most of all her fun spirit with kids.”
  • “Gail has worked at Lincoln for many years and has built long standing relationships with all her peers. She will be sorely missed as she enters her Individualized Entertainment Portion of her life.”

Liz Thoke, IS Teacher, Cache la Poudre Middle School
(Nominated by Amy Goldstein, IS Teacher)

  • “Liz is a complete teacher in all qualities and abilities by which teachers are measured, but she does her best work when working directly with her students to meet their individual needs. Since we changed to a team approach, Liz has been the case manager for 6th graders. This always presents a unique challenge as the students transition from elementary to middle school. Liz is always attentive to each of them in their individual need to learn, mature, and thrive in the classroom. She is caring, compassionate, and makes a personal connection with them regardless of need or ability.

    “She seems to know intuitively just how much support and assistance they need to ensure that they work up to their potential, while making it a positive and rewarding experience that helps them become ready for 7th grade, academically and emotionally. Were it not for Liz being there in so many ways for our 6th graders as they make this difficult transition there would likely be more academic and emotional issues. Thank you Liz, for everything you do to make a great difference for our 6th-grade students as they start their middle school years and careers as Pirates!”

Carrie Wiens, School Psychologist, Laurel Elementary School
(Nominated by the Laurel IS Team)

  • “Carrie is an outstanding School Psychologist. She goes above and beyond everyday to help to meet not only the needs of our IS students but the entire school. She has great relationships with students and staff. She is always willing to help or be on any committee needed. She is very organized and has us at Laurel running on a smooth track, by keeping IEP dates in order, helping with Enrich Compliance and organizing our evaluation reports. She is also a great resource for information on IEP writing, regulations and compliance. She is very thorough in meetings and on her paperwork. She has also, done a great job of building relationships with the parents of students, to help them feel comfortable and informed. She has taken a strong lead on the MTSS team and has streamlined the referral process for General education teachers. She has amazing relationships with kids. The students that she works with always want to go to group and spend time with her. She is a great balance of kind yet firm with students that need behavioral support. She has stepped into a challenging school and has done so with grace and laughter. One thing that we love about Carrie is her ability to laugh and have fun with a team that is all new to her. She has meshed well with our building and I.S. team and is truly a top cat! When she Purrs we all listen! The cat’s meow! Truly Meowvolous! Thank you Carrie for all you do for Laurel students and your cat crew!”

Thank you ALL for your service and dedication to EACH and EVERY student in PSD!

National Occupational Therapy Month – a note from PSD Integrated Services Director, Sarah Belleau


This month is National Occupational Therapy month!  I celebrate YOU, our Poudre School District Occupational Therapists!

Your work to support students with disabilities helps them grow, change and become as independent as possible.  OT in our schools is a key service in assuring that our students not only have access to the classroom but is also key to the overall development of a student in their school years.  Thank you for your commitment to being a school-based OT!

Have a great week!

Sarah Belleau
Integrated Services
Poudre School District

Mary Hull Award Recipients Announced!

Hello, PSD Community and Staff~

Through an independent committee, the Mary Hull Award recipients have been selected and are pictured and listed in bold/italics below.  At the Mary Hull Awards Banquet, each nominee and recipient will be honored through quotes from their nomination packet, a photo gallery and time on stage.  Therefore, if one of the nominees or recipients works in your school/department, we encourage you to attend the awards evening in their support with a group from your school.  Overall, the evening is a heartwarming celebration of the talented staff in Poudre School District.

The Mary Hull Awards banquet reservations are now available through your school’s office manager.  Please join us to honor and celebrate all staff who were nominated for and/or are the recipient of one of these awards!  It is a wonderful evening with students assisting in the event. Tickets to the event are $20, and this includes dinner.  Reservations must be made by April 18, 2019. Poudre School District parents or community members may also attend in support of a nominee or recipient.  Please call your school office manager or Integrated Services (number listed below).

The Annual Mary Hull Awards Banquet (Dinner and Awards)
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Timberline Church South Auditorium
5:30 – 7:30 pm
Doors open at 5:00 pm

Integrated Services Mary Hull Award Nominees and Recipients 2019:

Mary Hull Special Educator Award
Recipient: Tracy Kelley – Early Childhood Special Education and Lopez Elementary
Meghan Day – Werner Elementary
Ansley Garnett – Kinard Middle School
Tara Gross – Rocky Mountain High School
Diane Kallhoff – Webber Middle School
Matt Mitchell – Lesher Middle School
Marie Romel – Poudre High School
Troy Tolar – Fort Collins High School

Mary Hull Specialized Service Professional Award
Recipient: Xali Sommers – School Psychologist Lincoln Middle School
Rachel Collier – Physical Therapist North Side of PSD
Jessica McGuire – Speech/Language Clinician Wellington Schools

Mary Hull Collaborative Award
Recipient: Allison Alter – Fort Collins High School
Erica Ciardullo – Lesher Middle School
Amanda Erickson – Timnath Elementary School
Barrett Golyer – Poudre High School

Mary Hull Honorary Award
Recipient: Kim Cordova – PSD Transportation Department
Connie Lucero – Shepardson Elementary School

Sarah Belleau
Integrated Services
Poudre School District

PSD Speech-Language Pathologist, Donna Boudreau, visits the U.S. Capitol!

Donna Boudreau, PSD Lead Speech-Language Pathologist, had the opportunity to represent the American Speech and Hearing Association at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, March 4th. She and her colleagues met with aides from the offices of Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner to talk about issues key to the American Speech and Hearing Association, one of which is increased funding for IDEA. Donna also met with Abbie Callahan, Legislative Correspondent for Joe Neguse, U.S. Representative for Colorado’s 2nd District.  Ms. Callahan graduated from Fossil Ridge High School in 2015. Donna enjoyed witnessing the success of a recent PSD graduate, along with the overall opportunity to participate in the legislative process that is available to all!capitol visit 1
Donna Boudreau, PSD Lead Speech-Language Pathologist, visits the U.S. Capitol

capitol visit 2
From left: Kathy Boada, V.P. for Government Relations and Public Policy Board for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); Donna Boudreau, PSD Lead Speech-Language Pathologist; Laura Campos, Colorado’s representative to the Speech-Language Pathology Advisory Council for ASHA.

Democracy in action! Congratulations to all involved in the passing of HB19-1036 – Annual Stipends for Certified School Professionals. Here are a few words from PSD School Psychologist, Melanie Potyondy.

“This year has been a crash course in democracy for me, and a formative experience in building my confidence about constituents’ power to effect change.

“This fall, I emailed my wonderful state representative Jeni James Arndt about a state statute with which I saw an issue, just on a whim. Not only did she listen, she ran with it. She took it on as one of her bills for the year. I, along with some of my school psychologist colleagues, Brittany Hutson (PSD), Brad Reimers (PSD), and Sacha Mittelman (BVSD), had the honor of supporting her as HB19-1036 made its way through the House and the Senate. We got to see Representative Arndt and her co-sponsors argue passionately about school psychologists’ value and advocate on our behalf for parity in compensation. We got to speak at the Capitol (twice!). Today, our bill was passed by the general assembly and is one step away from being a law. (The bill was signed by Governor Polis on 2-28-19; becoming law.)

“It is a small bill. It gives certain school psychologists a yearly stipend. It still feels really special, and I am grateful.”

~Melanie Potyondy
PSD School Psychologist

Find more information on the Bill HERE.

Law Signing
Colorado Governor Jared Polis signing HB19-1036 on 2/28/19.
Behind Governor Polis, from left: Representative Jeni James Arndt (Co-Sponsor); Representative Barbara McLachlan (Co-Sponsor), PSD School Psychologists Brittany Hutson, Melanie Potyondy, and Brad Reimers; Representative Cathy Kipp (former PSD Board of Education member).

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Honoring our PSD School Social Workers during the month of March!

Dear Poudre School District Staff, Parents, Students, and Community Members,

March is a month to celebrate our social workers as it is National Professional Social Work Month! Poudre School District has many social workers supporting our students! Their work is integral to our students’ success, engaging the students, families, staff and community to assure alignment of resources and interventions. On any given day, we can find our social workers conducting individual and group sessions, collaborating with staff and community members, supporting others in meetings, engaging in meetings to find good solutions for students, managing a crisis, celebrating successes, etc. Our social workers make a difference daily!

Find out more about school social work at

“School social workers are an integral link between school, home, and community in helping students achieve academic success. They work directly with school administrations as well as students and families, providing leadership in forming school discipline policies, mental health intervention, crisis management, and support services. As part of an interdisciplinary team to help students succeed, school social workers also facilitate community involvement in the schools while advocating for student success.”

Celebrate your school social worker today!


Sarah Belleau
Integrated Services
Poudre School District

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Save the Date! 32nd Annual PSD Integrated Services Mary Hull Awards – Thursday, April 25, 2019. We have announced our nominees!

Save the date to attend a dinner presentation in recognition of PSD Integrated Services staff and others who support our program.  Congratulations to the following nominees:

Mary Hull Special Educator Award
Meghan Day – Werner Elementary
Ansley Garnett – Kinard Middle School
Tara Gross – Rocky Mountain High School
Diane Kallhoff – Webber Middle School
Tracy Kelley – Early Childhood and Lopez Elementary
Matt Mitchell – Lesher Middle School
Marie Romel – Poudre High School
Troy Tolar – Fort Collins High School

Mary Hull Specialized Service Professional Award
Rachel Collier – Physical Therapist North Side of PSD
Jessica McGuire – Speech/Language Clinician Wellington Schools
Xali Sommers – School Psychologist Lincoln Middle School

Mary Hull Collaborative Award
Allison Alter – Fort Collins High School Teacher
Erica Ciardullo – Lesher Middle School Teacher
Amanda Erickson – Timnath Elementary School Teacher
Barrett Golyer – Poudre High School Teacher

Mary Hull Honorary Award
Kim Cordova – PSD Transportation Department Route Planner
Connie Lucero – Shepardson Elementary School Special Education Paraprofessional II